September 26, 2018

ADL to recognize Ottoman Empire’s massacre of Armenians as ‘genocide’

The Ottoman government’s massacre of 1.5 million Armenians in the early 20th century was “unequivocally genocide,” the head of the Anti-Defamation League said in the group’s strongest position on the subject.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the civil rights group’s CEO, also said in a blog post Friday that the ADL will support U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide — a move the group resisted for many years.

Greenblatt, writing ahead of the organization’s national convention that began Sunday in Washington, D.C., tied the 1915 events to the Holocaust less than three decades later.

Greenblatt said the Jewish community’s experience regarding the Holocaust is relevant to the discussion, pointing out that at the end of World War II, there was “wide­spread shame in the West­ern world at the real­iza­tion that anti-Semitism was deeply embed­ded across cul­tures and coun­tries and could pro­duce such hor­ror.”

He cautioned that the passage of time since the Holocaust has in some way eviscerated the sense of shame that has inhibited anti-Semitism and is allowing it to reemerge in full force, which shows that “we must edu­cate each gen­er­a­tion about the tragedies of the past.”

“Silence is not an option,” he wrote.

Until August 2007, the ADL, under the leadership of then-National Director Abraham Foxman, did not use the term “genocide” to describe the massacre. It reversed course after an internal debate went public and a grassroots campaign by Armenian American activists targeted the ADL in Boston and other cities and towns with large Armenian populations.

Foxman has since used the term “Armenian genocide,” including in a 2014 speech. For many years the group opposed formal recognition by the U.S. Congress, citing concerns for the Turkish Jewish community and relationship among Turkey, Israel and the U.S.

New England’s ADL director, Robert Trestan, told the Boston Globe on Sunday that Greenblatt’s post was the “most unequivocal statement that we’ve ever issued.” Trestan took part in meetings between the ADL and local and national Armenian and Jewish groups, the Globe reported.

The statement does not go far enough, according to Andrew Tarsy, the former New England ADL director whose dispute over the issue with the national leadership in 2007 led to his temporary ouster by Foxman, who later reinstated Tarsy.

Tarsy, a noted civil rights attorney, told the Globe that the ADL ought to lead conversations about reparations for families.

“Everything that Holocaust reparations has represented should be on the table,” he said.

In recent years, a number of major Jewish groups have recognized the massacres as a genocide.

Greenblatt: Trump helped racism raise its head

Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail and his failure to outright condemn white supremacists and the KKK has mainstreamed their racist views into the political conversation, ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt suggested on Sunday.

“We are already seeing racism raise its head, right now, through social media and other means. We have also seen white supremacists express some degree of delight and satisfaction that their recruiting is up during this campaign,” Greenblatt told Israel’s Channel 1 on Sunday.

“The fact of the matter is, his failure to reject and repudiate their racism, their anti-Semitism, and their hate, with the same clear terms that he has used in the presidential debates, that he has used in his rallies, or that he has used about the other candidates, that lack of symmetry in the way he talks about white supremacists and racists, has helped to mainstream them into this political conversation,” he explained. “And that’s what we find so problematic.”

Asked if he’s worried about a Trump presidency, Greenblatt said, “I have no idea what a Trump presidency would bring. But I certainly don’t like what a Trump candidacy is bringing out in terms of these white supremacists.”

Trump addressed the issue during a Sunday morning interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” program. “How many times do I have to reject? I’ve rejected David Duke. I’ve rejected the KKK, the Ku Klux Klan from the time I’m five years old I rejected them,” he told host John Dickerson. ” I say to myself, how many times do I have to reject or disavow?”

“I don’t like any group of hate. Hate groups are not for me,” Trump added.

After Donald Trump wavers on David Duke, ADL publishes candidates’ guide to racists

The Anti-Defamation League sent the presidential candidates a list of racists whose endorsements it said they should reject, a day after Donald Trump wavered in disavowing white supremacist David Duke.

The ADL issued the informational list on Monday, and said it had shared it with all the candidates along with information on the Ku Klux Klan and hate groups in general. Included on the list are Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, and Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan, who on Sunday praised Trump for supposedly turning down money from Jews.

“We are providing information to all of the campaigns to ensure that they steer clear of these extremists and others who promote anti-Semitism, racism and white supremacy,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement accompanying the list. “It is incumbent upon all candidates for office to reject and disavow any of these groups should they endorse of express support for their campaigns.”

Trump, the front-runner in the GOP race, on Sunday responded in contradictory ways to being endorsed by Duke and said on CNN, “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Later in the day, the ADL said it would provide Trump and the other Republican and Democratic candidates with information on extremists and hate groups.

“Each individual identified on this list has publicly voiced support for a presidential candidate seeking higher office,” the ADL statement said, adding that names would be added “if other extremists should come out in support for any of the candidates.” Everyone so far included in the list has expressed some degree of public support for Trump.

Here is the full list as provided by the ADL:

David Duke, former Klan leader and a virulent anti-Semite, has asked his supporters to back Donald Trump. Duke has been active in the white supremacist movement for more than 40 years.

Andrew Anglin, who runs the neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer. Anglin’s site is filled with virulently racist and anti-Semitic articles.

Lee Rogers, who runs the neo-Nazi website Infostormer. Rogers posts viciously racist and anti-Semitic articles on his site

William Johnson, the head of the white supremacist American Freedom Party, has created the American National Super PAC, which has paid for a series of robocalls supporting Donald Trump for president. The calls disparage minorities and promote white nationalism.

Jared Taylor, who runs the white supremacist site American Renaissance. The American Renaissance site features articles that purport to demonstrate the intellectual and cultural superiority of whites.

Richard Spencer, the head of National Policy Institute, a small white supremacist think tank.

Kevin MacDonald, a notorious anti-Semite, and retired professor, has said that electing Donald Trump “may be the last chance for Whites to elect a president who represents their interests.” MacDonald is also a leader in the American Freedom Party.

Matthew Heimbach, a racist and anti-Semite who founded the white supremacist Traditionalist Youth Network.

Rachel Pendergraft, a spokesperson for the Knights Party, a Klan group based in Arkansas says that her groups uses Trump’s candidacy as a “talking point” in feeling out potential recruits.

Don Black, who runs Stormfront, the largest white supremacist Internet forum.

Louis Farrakhan, the racist and anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam.

With a nod to Silicon Valley, new ADL chief courts digital natives

Framed by a slide of two young guys in jeans and tees playing ping-pong on the Facebook campus, Jonathan Greenblatt described an event hosted by the social media behemoth in Palo Alto, California, the week before.

“Some of the stuff we’ve done has been really exciting, like in Silicon Valley,” Greenblatt, then the Anti-Defamation League’s freshly minted director, said, citing the ADL’s participation in an effort to combat cyber hate.

It was Greenblatt’s first major address before the ADL’s national commission, and it burst with business speak — terms like “operating environment” and “reshaping markets.” It may have nonplussed the crowd accustomed to the soaring rhetoric leavened with Yiddishkeit that characterized speeches by Greenblatt’s predecessor, Abraham Foxman; Greenblatt’s first applause came 30 minutes into the speech.

Greenblatt took the helm of the ADL in July, and already there are subtle but significant differences in how he is leading the venerable civil rights organization. He has attached chief executive officer to the traditional title of national director. Last month he hired Shari Gersten, a former Silicon Valley executive and fellow veteran of the Clinton-era Commerce Department, to handle the ADL’s external relations.

“We’ve got to figure out how to use the contemporary vernacular,” Greenblatt said in an interview with JTA. “Having been in a couple of White Houses, I have a tendency to want to succeed and execute objectives. You tend to be smart and strategic about leveraging your assets to succeed.”

Greenblatt’s Silicon Valley example was a telling one for the new ADL chief, a former California entrepreneur and White House staffer who took over from the iconic Foxman.

Foxman, who had worked for the league for 50 years — 28 as national director — led the group through a period in which the Internet emerged as fertile territory for the dissemination of hatred. He even wrote a book on that subject.

But unlike Greenblatt, who evinces an enthusiasm for new media born of a dozen years mixing with the California tech world, Foxman remained frustrated by his limited success with Internet companies. Just four years before Greenblatt’s speech, delivered this past October in Denver, Foxman’s address to the same gathering itemized the various ways Facebook was failing to police the hateful content posted by its users.

“We have been talking to the geniuses at Palo Alto,” Foxman told JTA in 2013. “We have said to them, ‘Thanks, but no thanks. You developed a technology that has some wonderful things but also has unintended consequences.’”

The difference in approach is emblematic of the broader challenges facing the ADL, founded in 1913, in its second century.

An organization that once mediated between the Jewish community and the American establishment is grappling with tectonic changes in both. At a time when Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are raiding its stately precincts, the very notion of an American establishment seems quaint. So does the idea of a unified Jewish voice in the age of Twitter and Facebook.

“Diversity is no longer an imperative, it is an inevitability,” Greenblatt said in Denver. “We will embrace our universalism even as we lean into our Jewish identity and we embrace our Jewish values.”

That mission — fighting both anti-Semitism specifically and defamation more broadly — has defined the league since its founding. At times it was obscured under Foxman, a Holocaust survivor who became the media’s go-to guy on questions of anti-Semitism and helped popularize the idea of a “new anti-Semitism” defined largely by animosity toward the Jewish state.

Comparisons to Foxman, who defined the ADL for a quarter-century, are inevitable. Greenblatt handles them with grace.

“I’m blessed to stand on the shoulders of [Benjamin] Epstein, Nathan Perlmutter and Abe and others,” he said in one of two lengthy interviews conducted since assuming his post in July, enumerating his predecessors spanning the years 1947-2015.

That span — nearly 70 years, comprising the leadership of just three men — underscores the momentousness of their replacement by a social media savant best known for his successful foray into the new economy with the bottled water company Ethos, as well as for heading an Obama White House office matching the new business titans with social service projects.

Foxman and the others were attorneys, skilled in the art of persuasion and unabashed advocates for the Jewish community. Greenblatt is a policy wonk and a businessman high on synergy, with an emphasis on relationship building.

Greenblatt’s relationship with the ADL began when he interned at its Boston office as a college student. His boss there later introduced him to his wife, Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, who was the associate director of the ADL office in Los Angeles for eight years. Greenblatt went on to work in the Commerce Department in the first Clinton administration.

In 2003, he and a classmate from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management launched Ethos, which donates a portion of its profits to finance water programs in developing countries. After Starbucks bought the company, Greenblatt went on to serve on the board of Water.org, a nonprofit co-founded by the actor Matt Damon. He also started an open-source platform for volunteers called All for Good and served as CEO of the media company GOOD Worldwide.

Greenblatt is comfortable with the language of millennials and Silicon Valley in a way none of his predecessors were. He spoke of understanding the “modalities” of California tech culture and of the “plugs and patches” being developed by the social media giants to combat online hate.

He has also been clear that in embracing a younger generation, the old guard will have to get over some of the perceived cultural slights that prompted stern rebukes from Foxman. In Denver, standing before a backdrop of a publicity shot from the HBO hit series “Girls,” he referred to the dust-up just six months earlier when Foxman slammed the show’s star, Lena Dunham, for an essay comparing the relative merits of Jewish boyfriends and dogs.

“I know that we at ADL are particularly familiar with Hannah, but we should talk about millennials for a moment,” he said, referring to the name of the Dunham character on “Girls.” “They have high expectations and a high sense of entitlement. But you know what? They all want to do good.”

It’s hard to say whether Greenblatt’s attempt to steer the ship in a more youthful direction is going to resonate. His first applause line in Denver came only after he committed himself to the ADL’s original mission “to fight the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all.

Yet even as he pushes to the old guard to loosen their collars, Greenblatt still cherishes the ADL’s role as arbiter — even more so at a time of increasing heated and polarizing political rhetoric.

“I actually think people crave reason, people recoil from politics and public conversation when it becomes a venue for trolling and ad hominem attacks and vitriol,” he said.

It remains to be seen if the Jewish community is still willing to have the ADL act as the standard-bearer of permissible discourse. Recent years have seen the organization hit from the left for opposing an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in Manhattan and from the right for focusing too much on domestic hate crimes and defending Muslims — and not enough on Israel and rising anti-Semitism in Europe.

Greenblatt may face additional pressure because of his ties to the Obama White House. In December, after the ADL backed the administration’s bid to rejoin UNESCO despite the cultural organization’s 2011 decision to admit Palestine as a member state, the Zionist Organization of America wondered if it was because of “pressure on Obama’s friend and former colleague.”

The suggestion that he won’t oppose the White House if necessary irks Greenblatt.

“Look at how we took a position on the Iran deal,” he said, noting the ADL had joined other major Jewish groups in opposing the nuclear agreement that the United States helped negotiate with Iran over the summer. “It was not aligned with my former employer.”

Still, Greenblatt is eager to turn the spotlight back on domestic concerns. After assuming his new role last summer, his first initiative was #50StatesAgainstHate (note the hashtag), a bid to establish a uniform definition of hate crimes for the entire country. With a $50 million budget, 27 regional offices and 300 employees, Greenblatt argued that the ADL was uniquely well positioned to lead the fight.

“We’ve got the kind of field structure we need to effectively engage with state legislators,” he said in Denver. “You do it one legislator, one district at a time.”

But one senses that Greenblatt’s real passion is to reposition the ADL for an age in which the communal ramparts are not nearly as steep. In previous years, the organization would occasionally start the New Year with a list of top 10 issues affecting the Jewish community.

This year, the list was of the 10 most inspiring moments of 2015, Jewish and non-Jewish: a Muslim worker who saved Jews in a Paris kosher supermarket; Norwegian Muslims protecting a synagogue; a 7-year-old in Texas who donated his life savings to a vandalized mosque. There were two nods to the LGBT community (marriage equality, greater acceptance for transgender Americans) and one to an immigration activist who gained U.S. citizenship. Only one was purely Jewish: the United Nations’ first-ever conference on anti-Semitism.

If the ADL wants to galvanize the next generation, Greenblatt said in Denver, it better adjust to a world in which black lives and transgender rights are of as much concern to young Jews as anti-Semitism.

“They see themselves as privileged and they see themselves as wanting to be part of movements of social justice,” Greenblatt said of millennials. “Guess which organization knows something about that.”

Fake anti-Israel New York Times distributed in Manhattan

Activists distributed thousands of fake and anti-Israel versions of The New York Times in Manhattan and promoted an online version via social media.

The fake New York Times — which included such fictitious articles as “IDF Generals Blame Israeli Government for Recent Violence” and “Congress to Debate U.S. Aid to Israel” — was handed out Tuesday morning at several bustling commuter hubs, including Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station. The organizations or individuals behind the campaign was not clear.

The fake paper mimics the Times’ trademark fonts and formatting, and describes itself as “Rethinking Our 2015 Coverage on Israel-Palestine — A Supplement.” In addition to its “corrections” (“It has come to our attention that the vast majority of articles about violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories have failed to include the names of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.”) and articles, it includes fake ads, such as one for “TimeUp” watches with the motto “The Moment is Now: End U.S. Military Aid to Israel.”

According to The Independent, a spokeswoman from The New York Times said in a statement: “We’re extremely protective of our brand and other intellectual property and object to this group (or any group’s) attempt to cloak their political views under the banner of The New York Times. We believe strongly that those advocating for political positions are best served by speaking openly, in their own voice.”

Some are speculating that the publication is the work of a group called The Yes Men that did a similar campaign in 2008.

In a statement, Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said the “creators of the phony newspaper are entitled to their view that The Times is biased in Israel’s favor, and to disagree with critics of The Times, some of whom think The Times has a bias against Israel. However, to do it in a surreptitious manner, as they have done, is deceptive.”

Greenblatt also criticized the fake publication for being published anonymously and conveying “false facts and themes consistent with anti-Israel advocates and supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.”

“New Yorkers are sophisticated enough to see that this ‘news’ was not fit to print,” Greenblatt added, a reference to the Times’ slogan, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

Crossing the line: When criticism of Israel becomes anti-Semitic

In the wake of a protest against a reception featuring an Israeli community group at a recent LGBTQ conference, there has been widespread controversy. We have read blog posts and articles, watched videos of the protest, and heard from friends and allies who were present at the demonstration.

Yet, what was perhaps most painful for many of us is that we value and embrace much of the good work of these activists and organizers.  They are some of our nation’s leading advocates, working to secure justice and fair treatment to all. Often they stand as allies in our work for justice and equality.

Unfortunately, though, this fissure is not a new experience.  Since starting as the CEO of ADL last summer, I personally have heard from many college students that their Jewish faith renders them pariahs on their campuses – unless and until they affirmatively denounce Israel.

Campus Hillels and other Jewish organizations that have long worked with LGBTQ campus groups, student of color organizations, and other progressive clubs on campus to host film festivals, panels, and other events increasingly are being shut out, rejected from participating, even when Israel is not on the agenda. Where other students are not being subjected to a litmus test on their views on Israel, Jewish students have been singled out and questioned about their objectivity and position on the issue.

As racial tensions flared across the country the past few years, we heard anecdotes from Jewish racial justice advocates that they were called “kikes” or targeted with other anti-Jewish slurs. When they tried to address the epithets, they were told they need to understand that “it’s because of Israel.”

Here’s the thing, though. It’s not. It’s anti-Semitism.

Let’s be clear. No government is immune from criticism. Surely neither the U.S. government nor the government of Israel nor any other.  Indeed, we have criticized policies and practices of Israeli leadership when we felt appropriate to do so. 

We recognize that anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian activists will condemn Israel. That is a reality. That is their right. We disagree – vigorously – with their accusations of pinkwashing, with claims that Israel is an apartheid state, and with other efforts to demonize Israel.  And we will speak out, challenge their mischaracterizations, and dismantle their indictments with facts and truths, as is our right. 

But when that criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitism, we will condemn it. It is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated anywhere, especially not in social justice circles.

To be specific, when a person conflates Jews, Israelis, and the Israeli government, it is anti-Semitic. When all Jews and all Israelis are held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, it is anti-Semitic. When Jews would be denied the right to self-determination accorded to all other peoples, it is anti-Semitic.  

And when protesters chant “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea,” it is appropriately interpreted by most people as a call for the erasure of Israel – and it is anti-Semitic. Giving protestors the benefit of the doubt, it is unlikely that most intend their message to be anti-Semitic. However, regardless of the intent of the protest, the impact matters.

Yet, too often, when students, individuals, or organizations raise the specter of anti-Semitism it is quickly rejected, disregarded, or written off. Israel’s critics literally have written best-selling booksdecrying their so-called inability to criticize Israel. 

But President Obama himself noted that anti-Semitism is on the rise. And, as he eloquently reminded, “When any Jews anywhere is targeted just for being Jewish, we all have to respond.. 'We are all Jews.' “

Indeed, we know that women are best positioned to define sexism, people of color to define racism, and LGBTQ people to define homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism. But, does this mean that all women must reach consensus on what offends them? All people of color? Everyone in LGBTQ communities? Hardly. 

So too, we Jews are best situated to define anti-Semitism, even if all of us may not likely reach consensus on the definition. Our millennial experience with intolerance demands the same acknowledgement as other forms of bigotry. Indeed, it is the collective responsibility of activists and organizers across the ideological spectrum to stop and listen when someone says,  “You’ve crossed the line.” 

Standing up for rights of disempowered people is a job for us all. ADL has been doing it for more than 100 years. But marginalizing and wounding others in the process helps no one. Rather, it divides us and impedes our ability to find common ground in places where our collective strength could do so much good.

Jonathan Greenblatt is the National Director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

Moving and shaking: Los Angeles Jewish Home gala, Israel Cancer Research Fund and more

“Celebration of Life: Reflections 2015,” a Los Angeles Jewish Home gala on Nov. 8, honored Molly Forrest, the Home’s CEO and president, for her 20 years of leadership and service. She was presented with the Visionary Award by Valley Beth Shalom Senior Rabbi Ed Feinstein during the event at the Beverly Hilton hotel.

“I am touched and honored to receive this recognition,” Forrest said in a statement. “I share the success at the Home today with gratitude to many donors, staff, colleagues, volunteers and board members who give so much to make the Jewish Home what it is.”

The evening drew more than 600 people and raised more than $1.2 million for programs and services at the Home, making it the organization’s most successful fundraiser ever, according to a statement.

Event co-chairs were Cecilia and Jeffrey Glassman, Lenore and Fred Kayne, and Pam and Mark Rubin. Also present was Erwin Diller, the honoree’s husband. Entertainer Mike Burstyn served as emcee and the Skye Michaels Orchestra performed.

Established in 1912, the Los Angeles Jewish Home is the largest nonprofit skilled-nursing provider in California. It encompasses three San Fernando Valley-based campuses and 21 programs and provides senior health care to more than 5,000 seniors annually. 


The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) national director, Jonathan Greenblatt, appeared locally Dec. 8 at the ADL Pacific Southwest region annual gala, which drew over 500 attendees and raised more than $850,000 to support ADL programs. It was Greenblatt’s first public appearance in Los Angeles since succeeding the organization’s longtime head Abraham Foxman in July.

From left: Anti-Defamation League (ADL) 2015 honorees Jeffrey Gross and Gina Raphael, ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL Regional Director Amanda Susskind, ADL 2015 honoree Christopher Murphy and ADL Regional Board Chair Eric Kingsley. Photo by Michael Kovac

During his remarks at the Beverly Hilton hotel, Greenblatt said his goals for the organization include combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. The hope, he is quoted as saying in a release, is to “creatively commit our individual energies and collective resources in new and impactful ways.” 

The event honored Gina Raphael and Jeffrey Gross, owners of Mickey Fine Pharmacy and Grill in Beverly Hills, with the Humanitarian Award. Christopher A. Murphy, deputy general counsel and vice president of business and legal affairs at DirecTV, received the Jurisprudence Award.

Stephanie and Howard Sherwood, Joshua Wayser and Richard Schulte were co-chairs, with Lynn and Les Bider and Terri and Clayton Friedman serving as honorary co-chairs. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles provided musical entertainment.

Founded more than 100 years ago, the ADL is dedicated to combating anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry.


The Los Angeles region of Emunah of America held a Dec. 19 gala at Sephardic Temple Tifereth Israel, raising $300,000 for Emunah’s School for Torah and the Arts in Jerusalem.

Emunah of America is a fundraising arm of Emunah, an Israel-based network of 250 social welfare and educational projects, including 135 day care centers, three emergency shelters for children, five children’s residential homes, four high schools, and 13 crisis counseling centers and senior citizen centers, according to Director of Communications Rita Goldstone.

The local event drew more than 200 people, including the organization’s national president, Karen Spitalnick. It honored Maureen and Larry Eisenberg, supporters of the School for Torah and the Arts, and YULA Girls High School seniors Caroline Weiss and Ariela Weintraub, supporters of the Emunah Bet Elazraki Children’s Home in Netanya, Israel.

The gala featured, among other things, a Bet Elazraki graduate identified as Mali Z., who discussed her experience growing up in the home and who was quoted in a press release as saying, “I graduated the children’s home strong and resilient, with a high school diploma and with a full toolbox for my future. Today, I have a big family — the Emunah family.”


On Nov. 18, Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) honored Steven Rosen, provost and chief scientific officer at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif., during an event at the InterContinental Chicago. 

From left: Steven Rosen, provost and chief scientific officer at City of Hope National Medical Center; actress Bonnie Hunt; and Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) supporters Jacki and Bruce Barron attend an ICRF event in Chicago. Photo by Larry Engelhart/Deja Views

The evening, during which Rosen was awarded the ICRF Lifetime Achievement Award, raised more than $650,000 for the Chicago chapter of ICRF and attracted nearly 450 attendees.

Actress Bonnie Hunt, who “shared her story of working with Dr. Rosen for seven years as his oncology nurse,” and ICRF supporters Jacki and Bruce Barron were among those who turned out for the event, according to the release. The event also honored the Barrons.

ICRF was founded in 1975 by a group of Americans and Canadians to provide funds for postdoctoral fellowships for young Israeli doctors.


The one-on-one cancer support organization Imerman Angels (IA) held an inaugural casino night on Nov. 8 at Michael’s in Santa Monica that attracted more than 200 attendees, including IA Regional Director Jordyn Goodman and IA Los Angeles advisory board member Dahlia Fox. The event raised more than $27,000 to support the organization’s services.

“I would like to bring awareness to any members of the Los Angeles Jewish community who may need the services that Imerman Angels provides by matching cancer fighters, survivors and their caregivers for one-on-one-support,” Fox said in an email.

The organization, founded in 2003, serves cancer patients and caregivers by pairing them with survivors who can support them during the difficult time.

Moving and Shaking highlights events, honors and simchas. Got a tip? Email ryant@jewishjournal.com. 

New ADL Chief says Europe and campuses keep him up at night

“It’s not about filling Abe’s shoes,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, 44, who took over as national director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in July, assuming the high-profile role filled by Abraham Foxman for the past 28 years until his retirement. 

“ADL has been around for 102 years, and so, just as Abe stood on the shoulders of his predecessors, so I stand on his shoulders.”

It’s a question Greenblatt has answered often since he was unanimously appointed a year ago by the ADL’s board of trustees.

Greenblatt is the sixth head of the ADL, which is widely recognized as among the most influential civil rights groups in the world, with a particular emphasis on fighting anti-Semitism. His path to the top has included jobs in business, politics and social entrepreneurship that together reflect a resume that reads a lot like those of many of today’s young chief executives.

Greenblatt, who now lives in New York, graduated from Tufts University in 1992 and worked for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign that same year; he holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and is a co-founder of Ethos Water, a bottled water brand that donates 5 cents of every sale to help bring clean water to the developing world. Starbucks purchased Ethos in 2005, vaulting Greenblatt into the role of Starbucks’ vice president of global consumer products.

Greenblatt lived in Los Angeles for 13 years, and it was here that he met his wife, Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, at a Shabbat dinner. They belonged to Sinai Temple and, among other ventures, he taught at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. In 2012, he became director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation for President Barack Obama’s administration. Then, in 2013, he got a call from the ADL’s national office inviting him to consider replacing Foxman.

“I was surprised in some ways about getting the call,” Greenblatt said in a phone interview. He thought that having no experience in law or running a large nonprofit wouldn’t have made him the natural choice to head the ADL. But by the time the offer was finalized in fall 2014, he enthusiastically assumed leadership of what he calls “arguably the most important organization in the Jewish community.”

Ironically, one of Greenblatt’s first public statements for the ADL, coming right on the heels of his departure from the White House, was to publicly explain why the ADL opposed the president’s landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, a position the group took under Foxman.

“By taking that position, I didn’t line up with a number of former colleagues; however, I think ADL took its position on a principled basis,” Greenblatt said. There is, he said, “no country in the world that’s more a progenitor of anti-Semitism than the Islamic Republic of Iran. An agreement which potentially might normalize that government and that ideology is difficult for ADL.”

Since July, Greenblatt and the ADL have made news for speaking out against calls to reject Syrians fleeing a civil war and seeking refuge in the United States, comparing their plight to Jews attempting to escape the Nazis. He and the ADL also have strongly condemned “incendiary anti-Muslim rhetoric” from Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. 

Meanwhile, the ADL continues its mission to document and help combat persistent anti-Semitism worldwide, but nowadays especially in the Middle East and Europe, and to fight rising anti-Israel sentiment and activity on American campuses, most pointedly exemplified by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. 

“It keeps me up at night to think that Jews [in Europe] live in fear for their physical safety,” Greenblatt said. “Here at home, concerning the virus of BDS — [it] is spreading across campuses.”

Asked whether his former role in the Obama administration has the potential to inject political or ideological bias into his role at the ADL, Greenblatt said that “the quarters that worry we’ll be too ideologically aligned with the administration” have made their concerns known. 

“We’re pragmatic, and the organization has always been in the middle,” Greenblatt said. “We’ll continue to do that.” 

Carson calls ADL response to gun/Holocaust remarks ‘total foolishness’

This post originally appeared at Jewish Insider.

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on Friday pushed back against Jewish criticism of comments he made on Thursday that Jews could’ve been saved from persecution by the Nazis in Europe were they allowed to carry armed-guns by law.

“I think the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed,” Carson said in an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. “There’s a reason these dictatorial people take the guns first.”

Carson was immediately called out by The Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “Ben Carson has a right to his views on gun control, but the notion that Hitler’s gun-control policy contributed to the Holocaust is historically inaccurate,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s National Director, said in a statement. “The small number of personal firearms available to Germany’s Jews in 1938 could in no way have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi German state.”

In an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Friday morning, Carson called Greenblatt’s response “total foolishness.”

“I’d be happy to discuss that in depth with anybody. But it is well known that in many places where tyranny has taken over, they first disarmed the people. There’s a reason that they disarm people. They don’t just do it arbitrarily,” he told host George Stephanopoulos.

What will the ADL lose when Foxman leaves?

If there’s one thing that can be said of longtime Anti-Defamation League leader Abraham Foxman, who is stepping down this month after nearly 30 years at the helm, it’s that he never holds back from speaking his mind.

In an age of canned, anodyne statements from public figures reticent to say what they really think, Foxman offers an authentic, unabashed voice free of artifice, hesitation or restraint.

Foxman also has something else when he speaks: listeners. Though the ADL doesn’t represent anyone but itself and Foxman is not an elected official, he is widely seen by journalists, the public and especially the White House as representing American Jewish opinion – to the consternation of many community activists to Foxman’s right and left.

“Abe is one of the three or four people you have to speak to on any given issue,” said former White House official Jarrod Bernstein, who did Jewish outreach during President Barack Obama’s first term.

“Abe was like an uncle to me. If you did something he thought you were on the wrong side of, he was going to let you know about it,” Bernstein told JTA. “On the flip side, if he thought you were being treated unfairly, or you did something right, he wouldn’t hesitate to say that either. That’s important and we need more of that in the American Jewish community.”

Foxman, who has run the ADL as national director since 1987 and worked there since graduating from law school in 1965, will be succeeded next month by Jonathan Greenblatt, a White House aide and social entrepreneur.

Under Foxman’s leadership, the ADL has become a $60 million-a-year juggernaut that runs anti-bias educational and training programs, monitors anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world, advocates for anti-discrimination legislation, and maintains regional offices around the country to discharge these functions. It has also served as a bully pulpit for Foxman, who managed to become the world’s chief arbiter of what qualifies as anti-Semitism — and the granter of absolution when warranted.

“He has an uncanny sense to know what to get involved with,” said Myrna Shinbaum, who worked at the ADL for 20 years and served as Foxman’s director of media relations and public information.

The case of fashion designer John Galliano represents a classic case of Foxman’s capacity to censure and forgive. When Galliano was caught on video in February 2011 going on a drunken, anti-Semitic tirade, the ADL helped lead the charge that resulted in Galliano’s firing by Christian Dior. But once Galliano made amends, Foxman was just as vociferous in defending Galliano and vouching for his rehabilitation.

In 2013, after Galliano had gone through counseling and was making his return to the design world, the New York Post accused Galliano of dressing in Hasidic garb and thereby mocking Jews. Foxman immediately jumped to Galliano’s defense, calling the story “a deliberate, malicious distortion” of Galliano’s outfit and intent.

“For the past year and a half, Mr. Galliano has been on a pilgrimage to learn from and grow from his mistakes. Now people are trying to distort and destroy him,” Foxman said in a statement. “He has spent hours with me and with others in the European Jewish community, including rabbis and Holocaust scholars, in an effort to better understand himself and to learn from his past mistakes. He is trying very hard to atone.”

Kenneth Jacobson, the ADL’s deputy national director, said this is one of Foxman’s signature moves: The ability to turn someone who had crossed the anti-Semitism line into a friend of the Jews.

After a high-profile Christian evangelist, the Rev. Bailey Smith, said in 1980 that God does not hear the prayers of Jews, the ADL blasted him. But then Foxman, who at the time was ADL’s associate national director and director of international affairs, orchestrated a visit to Israel for Smith. By the end, ADL officials said, Smith was calling him Rabbi Foxman.

“He’s able to take a very negative situation and turn it into a very positive one,” Jacobson said.

Along the way, Foxman has also become a confidant of presidents, prime ministers and too many celebrities to count.

But on the central question of ADL’s raison d’etre — fighting anti-Semitism — did Foxman make any difference?

It’s not hard to find anti-Semitism around the world today. In Europe, it’s evident in deadly attacks, anti-Israel demonstrations and boycott efforts. In Venezuela, Turkey and elsewhere, it comes from the mouths of public officials. On the Internet, it takes the form of virulent expressions of hate. In the Arab world, Jews are caricatured as they used to be in Nazi newspapers.

By the same token, anti-Semitism in the United States is at historic lows. The Jews in Israel live in relative safety. In Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe, governments are protective of their Jewish populations.

It’s hard to connect any of this to the ADL’s work, for better or for worse — though Foxman says the ADL is part of the reason America is one of the least anti-Semitic countries in the world.

“I don’t take credit for it, but I’m part of the effort — not only of the American Jewish community, but of decent people in this country, to fight it,” Foxman said.

“The most significant difference between the United States and the rest of the world is that in this country, there is a consequence to being a bigot and an anti-Semite. If you’re in commerce, if you’re in politics, if you’re in the arts — whatever it is — and you act out as an anti-Semite, you will pay a price.”

Foxman’s personal story has lent moral authority to his work. Born in 1940 in Poland, Foxman’s Jewish parents left him in the care of his Polish-Catholic nanny during the war in a bid to save his life. Raised as a Catholic, Foxman didn’t discover he was Jewish until after the war, when his parents came to claim him. His nanny refused to give him up, resulting in a custody battle.

After Foxman’s parents eventually won, they took their son with them to America, and only gradually did he let go of his Catholic habits and embrace his parents’ religion.

“I’m a product of the worst in humankind and the best in humankind,” Foxman told JTA.

Foxman said he ended up at the ADL more by chance than design. He did some freelance translating for the organization — then known as the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith — while in high school at theYeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn, and followed reporting on the ADL in the Jewish press.

Foxman planned to be an engineer, largely so he could help Israel or America in the age of Sputnik, he said, but he changed his mind after suffering through two years of chemical engineering at City College. He switched to political science, attended New York University law school and reached out to the ADL’s general counsel, Arnold Forster, when he was interviewing for jobs. Foxman was offered a position on the spot.

“To what extent did my experiences in the Shoah, the D.P. camps, my Catholicism have to do with that, I don’t know,” Foxman said. “I have been very lucky. To get up every morning and to have an opportunity to try to make a difference in both fighting hate and building love — wow. I have been very privileged.”

White House aide Jonathan Greenblatt to succeed Abe Foxman as ADL chief

The Anti-Defamation League’s new national director will be social entrepreneur Jonathan Greenblatt — a special assistant to President Obama who earlier in his career co-founded the bottled water brand Ethos.

Greenblatt, 43, will succeed Abraham Foxman, who announced in February that he would be stepping down effective July 2015. Foxman, 74, has been the ADL’s national director since 1987.

The news was first reported by JTA on Thursday and followed shortly afterward by a formal announcement at the ADL’s annual meeting in Los Angeles.

The ADL said the unanimous selection of Greenblatt by the 16-member succession committee was the culmination of a two-year nationwide search led by the Atlanta-based executive search firm BoardWalk Consulting. The firm reviewed hundreds of prospective candidates from the fields of business, law, academic and nonprofit management, according to an ADL news release.

Greenblatt, a grandson of a Holocaust survivor who escaped Nazi Germany but lost nearly all his family in the war,  interned for the ADL while in college at Tufts University and later participated in an ADL professional leadership program.

His wife, Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, an Iranian-American Jewish immigrant, worked as an associate director at ADL’s Los Angeles office for about eight years. Until last December, she was acting director of the Israel on Campus Coalition. She went on to co-found the new nonprofit Alliance for Rights of All Minorities, which promotes women’s and minority rights in Iran, and serves as its director.

“Marjan herself escaped from her native Iran after the Islamic Revolution when this ancient country that once championed tolerance instead forged a political ideology in the toxin of anti-Semitism,” Greenblatt said Thursday in a speech delivered after the announcement, according to a transcript of remarks provided by the ADL. “Like my grandfather decades earlier, my wife had to flee the land of her birth and came to this country with the help of HIAS as a political refugee because of her Jewish identity. And so our lives…are shaped by this pernicious force, this longest hatred.

At the White House, Greenblatt serves as director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in the Domestic Policy Council, where his portfolio includes national service, civic engagement, impact investing and social enterprise.

A veteran of the Clinton administration, Greenblatt has been a serial social entrepreneur. Ethos, the bottled water company he and a business school classmate launched in 2003, donated a portion of its profits to finance water programs in developing countries. After Starbucks bought the company, Greenblatt continued to promote clean-water funding in the developing world as the coffee company’s vice president of global consumer products. He went on to serve on the board of the nonprofit Water.org, which was co-founded by the actor Matt Damon.

Greenblatt also started an open-source platform for volunteers called All for Good, served as CEO of the media company GOOD Worldwide and founded the Impact Economy Initiative at The Aspen Institute. He has a master’s degree in business from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

In the Jewish world, Greenblatt has served on the board of the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, and he was one of the judges in the 2011 “Next Big Jewish Idea” contest of the Los Angeles Jewish federation.

“I have enjoyed a varied career that has spanned business, nonprofit and public service, but the common thread linking these experiences has been a commitment to tikkun olam, to repair the world, whether by building businesses, creating products, driving policy or forging partnerships,” Greenblatt said in his speech Thursday.

Foxman will formally hand over the reins to Greenblatt on July 20.

Foxman has been a singular leader for the organization. A child survivor of the Holocaust, he started at the ADL in 1965. Under his leadership, ADL expanded its reach with 30 regional offices across the United States and an office in Israel. In 2011, the last year for which data is available, the ADL reported nearly $54 million in revenue.

But Foxman’s role transcends that of leader of an organization that monitors anti-Semitic activity, offers discrimination-sensitivity training and runs anti-bigotry programs, including for law enforcement. He has become the leading global arbiter for what constitutes anti-Semitism, the go-to person for apologies and exculpation when public figures make anti-Semitic gaffes or missteps, and a favorite hated figure of anti-Semites worldwide. He also has been a staunch advocate for Israel.

“I’m confident that ADL will continue to thrive and grow under Jonathan’s leadership,” Foxman said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to ensure a successful and smooth transition.”

Greenblatt said he is deeply honored to have been chosen for the post.

“The threats that face our community today – including the expanding specter of global anti-Semitism, the continued legitimization of anti-Zionism, and the spreading infection of cyber-hate, are serious and sinister,” Greenblatt said Thursday. “Fighting this scourge and advocating for the rights of all is not just an intellectual pursuit – it’s personal for me, a deeply held value, one that has been seared into my soul.”